Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Travel-ban Victims Cry for Justice

…Says “We Can’t Destabilize This Country”
Compiled by Bill K. Jarkloh

Victims of the UN Travel ban against officials and associates of detained former President Charles Ghankay Taylor have been crying foul for what they considered miscarriage of international justice against them, calling for intervention of the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf administration.

Those on the travel ban include Randolph Cooper, Cyril Allen, John Richardson, Representatives Edwin Snowe, Kai Farley and Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor amongst others. The affected Liberians want their government to ask the French Ambassador about the truthfulness of his statement. They observed the UN keeps giving different reasons for the travel ban imposed on them and the allegation from the French Ambassador is no exception.

It is totally unfair for one to be denied the right travel which is curtailing one’s right to free movement, even if he was to go to seek health attention abroad, especially when such person has not been tried and convicted of any crime to warrant the punitive action, says Lewis Brown, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Charles Taylor-led administration.

Mr. Brown spoke on the Truth Breakfast Show of FM 96.1 where he accused this administration of protecting a few and leaving others vulnerable. The former Foreign Minister and one time Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company (LPRC) said amongst other things that the United Nations’ travel ban on them has not been justified. He noted that they, under the sanction, have been punished or convicted without trial for their perceived offence.

“You should know that people on the travel ban enjoy the confident of their people. Some of these people were elected to the Legislature because their people think they are capable of defending their interest,” Mr. Brown, also a one time Security Advisor to former President Taylor, noted.

He maintained that the treatment being meted against them could not have been one meted against United States officials, especially congressmen elected by their respective constituents, who have not been convicted but merely accused of crimes.

Another Liberians who has got to be bitter against the ban include another former Foreign Minister Dorothy Musuleng Cooper, who said, in reaction to French Ambassador Jacques Gerard’s statement, that victims of the travel ban have been responsible people who “..,will not destabilize the country” even if they were purged of the sanction.

Also John Richardson, another victim of the travel ban, who spoke recently at a news conference in reaction to the French ambassador’s statement against travel ban victims, said Ambassador Gerard’s recent statement to the effect of the UN travel ban should not be taken lightly; he said instead it should be engaged. Mr. Richardson wondered whether the French Ambassador’s statement is a personal view or the position of the French Government.

The Liberians placed on travel ban by the UN have appealed to the Liberian government to intervene in a statement made against them by the French Ambassador.

Ambassador Gerard reportedly told Senate Pro-Temp Cletus Wotorson that the affected Liberians would use their alleged hidden wealth to destabilize the country. Ambassador Gerard made the remarks when Pro-Temp Wotorson requested the intervention of France in the removal of the travel ban on the Liberians.
The sanctioned Liberians recalled the first reason the UN gave was to facilitate the peace process in Sierra Leone, which later changed to on-going ties with former President Charles Taylor. According to the affected Liberians, with peace now restored to Sierra Leone and Mr. Taylor in prison, a new reason is being crafted to justify the travel ban on them.
The Liberians, some of whom supported the Unity Party in the 2005 elections, said they have remained law-abiding and promised to be law-abiding in spite the situation. They want the Liberian government to intervene in what they termed advanced punishment without due process or the benefit to be tried for any wrong-doing.

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